Jamie Ford explores epigenetic trauma and what we inherit in new novel

It was such a pleasure to welcome Jamie Ford back to Yellowstone Public Radio. We discuss his new novel, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy. In this wide ranging conversation we talk about self-care, family inherited traits, Buddhism, and the idea that we are all truly connected.

“I love the idea that if we as individuals were islands in the ocean, we seem like we are completely separate from one another, but can you drain the water away and down to the surface of the ocean floor we are all connected,” said Ford, who is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer, Min Chung, who emigrated from Hoiping, China, to San Francisco in 1865.

His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, was released in 2010 and spent two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list. The Many Daughters of Afong Moy, released in August 2022 by Atria Books, was an instant New York Times Bestseller and a Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick.

The book is an exploration of what we inherit – not just genetically and in physical traits, but personality traits, historical traumas, joys, and depressive tendencies. The book’s core is Afong Moy, based on a real person – the first Chinese woman to come to America in the mid-1800s. Her story is so unique in many ways, as Chinese women could not leave China at that time, and there was a practice as well of binding their feet.

Little known fact about Ford that came out in the interview: he’s a poet at heart, and doesn’t get nervous about a lot of things, but when he did his first poetry slam recently, his knees were knocking and he was swearing buckets, he said.

“But it’s good to be scared, and it’s good to be challenged, so maybe if I get over that, I’ll publish something.”

Ford is my kind of poet, referencing Anne Sexton during our interview:
“My friend, my friend, I was born
doing reference work in sin, and born
confessing it. This is what poems are:
with mercy
for the greedy,
they are the tongue’s wrangle,
the world’s pottage, the rat’s star.”

Here’s a link to the show archive.

Similar Posts